U.S. Open ready to break in California

With Justin Rose having won golf’s U.S. Open in June and the next Grand Slam on the pro tennis circuit being the U.S. Open in August and September, the U.S. Open of Surfing nestles comfortably in between and gets underway next weekend.

Far more than a simple surf competition, the 2013 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif. will likely continue to increase the sport’s visibility and reach with its full menu of appetizing activities. The week-long west coast party also features the Van Doren Invitational for some of the world’s best skaters and BMX riders, along with live music nights and ongoing entertainment.

But for now, let’s just focus our attention on the surfing, because Kauai should be receiving much of the attention in that category.

The top of the ticket features the Men’s Pro division, which is an Association of Surfing Professionals Prime event. It won’t affect the World Championship Tour rankings, but it can provide World Rankings points for those hoping to move into next year’s ASP Top 34. Defending champion Julian Wilson and some of the top WCT competitors are in the field, including Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and Kauai’s Sebastian Zietz.

After five events of the 10-event 2013 season, Zietz sits in a tie for 11th place in the WCT rankings. He’s also in 11th place in the World Rankings, just in case the second half of his WCT season dropped him outside the Top 22 for automatic renewal in 2014. The US Open is a chance to further beef up that World Ranking and the $250,000 prize pool is pretty good incentive, as well.

Fred Patacchia (“Freddy P”) and Dusty Payne will also be representing the state of Hawaii in the Men’s event.

The Women’s event will feature all the usual suspects, including defending champion Lakey Peterson and current ASP No. 1 Tyler Wright. Kauai’s Malia Manuel and Alana Blanchard will also be among the 19 women competing for points, cash and prestige.

Both girls have the same number of WCT points for the 2013 season and each is on the borderline for an automatic spot on the 2014 tour. The Top 10 WCT finishers renew their places for 2014, with the remaining seven spots determined by the World Rankings.

The women are currently competing at the Roxy Pro Biarritz in France, the sixth of eight WCT stops for the 2013 season, which will hopefully get its first round underway today after a Thursday lay day.

Moving down into next week’s younger divisions, a full 25 percent of the Women’s Junior Pro field has Kauai roots, starting at the very top. Brianna Cope and Tatiana Weston-Webb are the highest-seeded juniors and will be joined in the Round of 16 by wild-card entry, Leila Hurst. Nage Melamed, Mainei Kinimaka and Maluhia Kinimaka will all begin in the Round of 24. All six Kauai girls have had experience as team members or alternates for Team Hawaii at the International Surfing Association World Junior Championships.

Alisha Gonsalves, Bailey Nagy, Dax McGill, Mahina Maeda, Kalle Krebs, Honolua Bloomfield and Brisa Hennessy will also be surfing under the Hawaii flag for the Women’s Junior Pro.

Two of the top contenders for the Men’s Junior Pro are Kauai’s Kaimana Jaquias and Koa Smith, also Team Hawaii veterans, who will each begin their weeks in the Round of 64. Keanu Asing and Kalani David join them at the top of the Hawaii contingent.

They will be among the first surfers to paddle out past the iconic Huntington Beach pier, as the Men’s Junior Pro is the first to get underway on Saturday, July 20.

For more information and to follow the event directly, visit vansusopenofsurfing.com.

• ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays in The Garden Island. Email David Simon your comments or questions to dsimon@thegardenisland.com. Follow David on Twitter @SimonTGI

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